Qualified teachers are key to successful implementation of inclusive polices.
In Malawi, it is essential that the teachers in our education system have the necessary skills and knowledge for students to receive quality education which translates into inclusive education.
As the country is striving to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), authorities must not forget that one of the targets of the global agenda states that by 2030, countries shall substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries.
From this, let us keep in mind that we are left with just 12 years to get to the deadline.
Malawi currently runs an itinerant teaching programme whereby specialist teachers provide basic training to teachers in mainstream schools on how to improve inclusion in the classroom.
Currently, the programme is being run in 11 of the 34 education districts in the country.
This is good, but it is not enough as the knowledge required for an inclusive classroom are enormous. It covers the needs of the student both inside and outside the classroom.
As such, inclusive education prepares students with special needs for greater involvement in society where socialisation skills are also required.
Quality education is heavily dependent on having quality teachers at all levels of the education system.
Quality teachers are well-trained, well-remunerated and have decent conditions of service that positively motivates them to work hard.
Motivated teachers often ensure that their learners receive quality education.
It is, however, disappointing to note that in Malawi and many parts of the southern African region, teaching is held in low esteem, remuneration is low and conditions of service are poor.
According to Unesco, this has a negative impact on motivation.
There is a need to ensure that teachers employed by schools in the country have good conditions to improve the quality of education.
These services are needed right from the early stages of education to the tertiary education system.
It is therefore important that our government should aim to attract the best students to teaching by having attractive conditions of service.
Among others, this will help ensure that high performing candidates apply for teaching courses because of its attractiveness.
The rapidly changing context and curriculum requires reflective teachers who are able to adapt to new challenges and adopt new approaches and pedagogy.
As we live in a world where technological advancements and globalisation are moving at a fast rate, it is essential that teachers in our education system adapt their teaching methods to suit the needs of all their students.
As quality education is inclusive for all children, teachers and school managers need to be trained and supported to provide inclusive teaching and learning environment, school leadership and management for learning needs to be strengthened to achieve quality education.
School managers need the necessary knowledge and skills in inclusive education to ensure that their school policies and practices reflect the inclusive system of education that is enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
Politicians, policy makers and education practioners have to ensure that the education policies that are developed have to address how to recruit and retain good quality teachers.
It also follows that even if the policies are developed independently, political will has to be there so that when policies are being implemented, necessary funds and other resources are available for smooth implementation.
Government, through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, deserves a pat on the back for the successful launch of the National Strategy on Inclusive Education.
This is a milestone in the pursuit of the full realisation of inclusive education in the country. However, it should not just be reflected on paper but also on the ground. It must be implemented diligently in both public and private education institutions. n